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Playing With / Bystander Syndrome

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Basic Trope: An attitude held by non-heroes that any given crisis isn't important and doesn't require their help because they're not personally involved and have no desire to get involved.

  • Straight: Charlie, Dave and Elly all witness Alice having her purse snatched, but don't try to help her.
  • Exaggerated: Just about every NPC in the whole world of Fantasticalia is completely unwilling to help Alice despite knowing full well that there will be a life-eradicating apocalypse that only she can stop.
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  • Downplayed: Norman Normal sees Alice Awesome fighting a monster; even though Norman can't do anything to the monster, he sticks around to make sure Alice is all right.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
    • Chronic Hero Syndrome; Even bystanders have the urge to heroism.
    • Mob Mentality; people are so desperate to do something to solve a crisis that they end up making things worse.
  • Subverted: Charlie patiently waits until the robber turns his back, then throws a baseball at him, knocking the robber out for good.
  • Double Subverted: But that's because Charlie knows the robber - it's the one who stole his autographed bat, so it is, in fact, his problem. Dave and Elly still don't care, even when Charlie gets rewarded by police.
  • Parodied:
    • The guy who wants to destroy the universe is standing right there, next to his Doomsday Device, defenseless yet boasting about it. And it seems that nobody gives a shit anyway.
    • Alice is given the finger when she so much tries to ask for the citizens to help.
  • Zig Zagged: When Alice is mugged, Charlie, Dave and Elly stay out of it... but Frank and Holly witness the incident and try to help out. When they see those two putting themselves at risk, the others feel guilty, but only Dave is jolted out of his apathy and joins the struggle. In the end, they manage to recover the purse, but Dave and Holly were badly hurt and end up in the hospital. Elly and Charlie use this to justify to themselves not getting involved. Later, Bob finds out and calls them out on this.
  • Averted: Alice's purse is snatched. The snatcher takes 5 steps before he's tripped by a bystander, and two other bystanders hold him down while Alice catches up, as a fourth bystander dials 911 on a cell phone and other passers by offer to testify at his trial.
  • Enforced:
    • The makers of Fantasticalia can't make it so that every single NPC can get involved in the fight against the evil empire, as that would make things too complex; for simplicity's sake, the vast majority of NPCs keep to themselves and don't try to help the heroes unless the almighty plot calls for it.
    • The ones doing the crime are the bad guys, but are also the law or at least how connections.
    • It is, for some reason, illegal to help someone. The minimum they can do is maybe call 911.
  • Lampshaded: "Help, that guy's stealing my purse! Jeez, you'd think someone on this incredibly busy street would help me!"
  • Invoked: "Go on, cry out for help, nobody's going to save you."
  • Exploited: The mugger, knowing no one is likely to try to stop him, decides to steal all of Alice's valuables.
  • Defied:
    • "Somebody else's problem, huh? Not on my watch!"
    • "You're all conscripted. Get in there, or be shot."
  • Discussed:
    • "You never see people helping each other anymore."
    • "Um...should we go and help her, maybe?" "Oh, right!"
  • Conversed: "Man, fewer people are helping out here than at the apathy-thon."
  • Deconstructed:
    • Charlie, Dave and Elly don't do anything to help when Alice is mugged. The robber then kills her. When a grieving Bob sees a report on the attack and learns they stood by and did nothing, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against them, effectively making it their problem.
    • The mugging occurs on a dark street and no one can hear or see what is happening. People may call the police, but from the vague descriptions, it sounds like a non-lethal domestic dispute so they are slow to arrive. No one goes out to help for several reasons like they are asleep and any loud noise like gunshots wake them up, but they don't recognize what woke them up, others are too hurt or sick to move, maybe others see the gun and know they wouldn't be able to sneak up on the guy with physical action, etc. The guy gets away.
  • Reconstructed:
    • After Bob murders Charlie, Dave and Elly, he's caught by police. When his motivation is revealed to the media, instead of making people more eager to help, they instead grow even more determined to stay out of bad situations like that, pretending not to see anything for fear of being targeted by another psycho like Bob.
    • The public is still shocked by the lack of response and the situation is exaggerated and not fully reported leading to sensational new-stories and the bystanders and police being called out. The public condemns the people in the nearby buildings even though it wasn't really their fault.note 
  • Played For Laughs: As the rest of the Redshirt Army stands idly by playing dice games, twiddling their fingers and watching the clouds go by, Alice and the heroes get dog-piled by a whole army of monsters. Alice's hand is seen reaching out of the pile with middle finger extended in the army's direction, and a muffled "lazy fuckers!" comes from the maul.
  • Played For Drama: Alice, cornered by her attacker in a dark alleyway, calls for help. A passerby clearly hears her cries... but keeps on walking by.
  • Implied: Alice is killed by a Serial Killer. A news report states afterward that there were many people around, but none seem to have helped.

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